Which Countries are Most Similar to Portugal?

Have you ever wondered how similar or different two countries are? The Country Similarity Index attempts to quantify how similar countries are to each other relative to other countries. The index is a statistically-based way to measure this. The index weights equally five major aspects of countries: their demographics, culture, politics, technology, and geography. In addition each aspect was roughly balanced evenly between quantity/percentage and quality/type. See this post for a full explanation: https://objectivelists.home.blog/2020/05/30/country-similarity-index/

Similar to Mediterranean countries

Many countries are similar to Portugal. The top 5 countries are all in the European Union and border the Mediterranean Sea. In addition, 4 of the top 5 are Catholic. Although Brazil speaks Portuguese, there are significant differences between them. Brazil has large swathes of sparsely populated rainforests, in contrast to the chaparral landscape of Portugal. Furthermore, Brazil has a high amount of racial diversity, unlike Portugal. It is also less developed and poorer.

Top 10 Places Most Similar to Portugal

  1. Spain is Portugal’s only neighbor on the Iberian Peninsula. They share similar demographics and culture. Both countries have a similar climate. Furthermore, they both use a unique railroad gauge, not used anywhere else in Europe. One difference is that Portugal has a semi-presidential system of government, while Spain is a constitutional monarchy, however their laws are extremely similar.
  2. Italy is located across the Balearic Sea from Spain. Like Portugal, it grows and consumes a lot of wine. It also grows many olives. Although both countries have beautiful beaches, Italy has a higher coastline to area ratio.
  3. France and Portugal both have a semi-presidential system of government, since they both abolished their monarchies. Like Portugal and Italy, both countries grow and drink a lot of wine. However, Portugal eats less cheese. Since France is more northern, its climate is not as hot.
  4. Greece is the only country in the top 5 that is not Catholic. In addition, their language and writing system is quite different. However, there are some huge similarities as well. Their economic situations are worse than other EU members and they have high unemployment numbers. Portugal and Greece’s climates are similar and their predominant crop is olives. They both have similar laws and a unicameral legislature dominated by two parties.
  5. Croatia is yet another Catholic country that borders the Mediterranean on this list. One big difference is that it speaks a Slavic language. While Croatia is in the European Union, it has still not adopted the Euro. Both countries have extremely low birth rates and an aging population. Still, Croatians tend to be much taller.
  6. Poland, 7. Belgium, 8. Slovenia, 9. Luxembourg , 10. Slovakia

Top 10 Places Least Similar to Portugal

  1. Somalia is the least similar country to Portugal, since it is an anarchic, Muslim country that has poorly developed infrastructure. Its conservative policies contrast Portugal’s more liberal society.
  2. Yemen is located on the Arabian Peninsula, across the Gulf of Aden from Somalia. It is another conservative Muslim country that has poorly developed infrastructure. 
  3. Sudan is located in the Sahara Desert, near Somalia and Yemen. It is another impoverished Muslim country. It recently lost some territory to the newly formed country of South Sudan. Its authoritarian government and lack of development make it quite different from Portugal.
  4. Papua New Guinea is one of the wettest countries in the world, in contrast to Portugal’s relatively dry Mediterranean climate. Although both countries are mostly Christian, Papua New Guinea has more Protestants and is more religious.
  5. Bangladesh is another Muslim country with underdeveloped infrastructure on this list. It is also one of the most densely populated countries in the world. Bangladesh is less mountainous and gets far more rainfall than Portugal. 
  6. Eritrea, 7. Bhutan, 8. South Sudan, 9. Mauritania, 10. Afghanistan

Full Ranking of Countries and Territories Most Similar to Portugal

Do you agree with the list?
Please leave any thoughts in the comments section.

11 Comments

  1. I am frankly surprised to see so many Slavic countries so high up. As a Portuguese I feel the most similar country to Portugal would be Brazil but even in Europe I would have thought France and Italy are more similar to Portugal than Spain. And Romania definitely more so than Croatia, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia. It puzzles me to see Luxembourg and Belgium there but not Andorra or San Marino or Monaco.

    Like

    1. Anyone who thinks that Brazil is a mere extension of Portugal is mistaken. They are very different countries, even in the cultural aspect. The pronunciation of the Portuguese language in each country is very different and not even the writing is unified. In common only some habits, cultural traits and a common history. The rest is very different. There is no way for Brazil to be the country most similar to Portugal. Not only for geography, but for society (Brazilians are friendly and Portuguese are very closed), politics, urbanism and other aspects.

      Like

  2. Not any Mediterranean countries for sure. Apart from geography they are all more illiberal and politically unstable than Portugal even the Euro-Med duo (France and “Spain”. I think we are closets to England and Galiza since by the criteria used here the obvious #1 (Brazil , of course) is a nonstarter. How does this caompare with England/Canada or England/Australia. Becayuse they are so sparsely populated and England is not and fairly democratic and US-like (whereas England is not) and a few people still believe in some religion (even if it’s the flavour of the month US loony Pentecostal one whereas in England fewer people believe in any religion at all but of those that do Catholics, Muslims and Hindus easily beat these US sects, denominations.

    Like

    1. How do you say that the Mediterranean countries do not look like Portugal and say that Brazil looks more even though it is even more stable than the European countries in the region? It doesn’t make sense, Brazil is very different from Portugal in everything for everything, but the Portuguese don’t want to admit it because of a nationalist pride.

      Like

  3. The most important Portuguese crop isn’t olive oil because it represents only 1% (in Ton/year) of the total agriculture production, of course that olive oil is a product more expensive than crude oil and so, in therms of value, it worth more than 1%. But, anyway, production of fruits and vegetables exceeds each one 30% and, for example, wine 11% or potatoes 6%… they all are more important than olive oil.

    Portuguese unemployment rate was never high and certainly was never as high as in the Mediterranean Countries, especially in Spain and Greece.

    Agree that Portugal does not overlaps with Brazil. Two totally different countries, different social approaches, different mindset, different climate, different landscape.

    Talking about landscape, I also have to say that Portugal is mainly forest: pine forest, eucalyptus forest and oaks of various families including cork oak. Portugal is lush and green most of the year and, gets more yellowish colors in the summer months, especially in the south. You are right, we do have a chaparral sort of landscape like in California but it is far from being our “trade mark”. That landscape is only typical of limestone regions like a small region in central western Portugal and in the Algarve, the rest are schist and granite regions where the dirt profile is deeper and retains more water and thus huge trees are allowed to grow.

    I think that in terms of mindset and stereotype, the Portuguese do not overlap as much with other Mediterraneans as Americans think. We do not share the Italian, Greek and most of Spanish way of loud talking and gesturing, especially when outside. We clearly do not overlap in the emotional departments, we prefer a low profile approach in our relationships. Some people say that it is the effect of the big Atlantic ocean in our personality and surely we are an Atlantic nation.

    Like

    1. Thanks for your response. When comparing the agriculture of two countries in these studies, the % of agricultural land area is used. Olives groves represent that largest land area of any crop in Portugal, just like Greece and some other Mediterranean countries.

      Like

  4. it is a surprise for me not to see Portugal and Brazil so close, the most likely is the political instability, climate, etc. I met Portuguese and they are very similar to Brazilians in all aspects, they say that the Brazilian is happy, but that does not define Brazil. If I left Brazil in several parts you will see that culturally Portugal is closer to the northeast, but in the way of life, I think they are closer to the south of Brazil.

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s